October 25th, 2009
12:35 PM ET
13 years ago

Give McChrystal the troops he wants, Hatch says

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-UT, said Sunday that, regardless of the political situation on the ground in Afghanistan, President Obama should give U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal the 40,000 additional American troops that McChrystal has reportedly requested.

In an interview that aired earlier on CNN's State of the Union, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the leading challenger to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, called into question the ability of the Afghan government to partner with the United States if Karzai wins an upcoming run-off election as many senior Obama administration officials expect.

Asked about Abdullah's comments, Hatch told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King, "I think it's taken too long," for Obama to make a decision about troop levels in Afghanistan.

"We have to worry about corruption but we also have to work with whoever is put in there," Hatch also said, making a reference to the unsettled political situation in Afghanistan caused by fraud in the country's presidential election last month.

"And whoever is put in there, you're going to find some corruption," the Utah Republican added. "The fact of the matter is I think we ought to rely on the hand-picked general, by President Obama, Gen. McChrystal, who said that we've got to have more troops."

Hatch added that he thought some of Obama's critics have been "hypercritical" in suggesting that the president was delaying a decision about Afghanistan until after two upcoming gubernatorial elections early next month in Virginia and New Jersey. Some political observers have suggested that the two races could be viewed as a referendum on Obama's presidency so far.

"I hope that's not the case," Hatch said of suggestions that Obama's drawn-out decisionmaking process on Afghanistan could be motivated by domestic political considerations.

But Hatch also said it was "a mistake to continue to not make this decision" given the advice the White House has reportedly received from McChrystal, the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan.

Two Democratic senators were more generous towards Obama in their assessment of the situation in Afghanistan.

Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio said he thought it was "frankly too early to tell" whether another Karzai term would lead to more corruption. Therefore, Brown said, Obama should continue to listen to his many advisers and make the Afghanistan troop level decision "in the most sobering way possible."

Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson said the U.S. relationship with the Afghan government "has to be a partnership. There's no question about it when we have that many American troops stationed there, fighting there, and, unfortunately, dying there." Nelson told King that he didn't think the capability of the Afghan government would be known until next month's run-off election.

Filed under: Afghanistan • Popular Posts • State of the Union
soundoff (141 Responses)
  1. David

    Who cares what Hatch thinks? Not me. And he spoke at my grad school graduation.

    When Bush fired his commanders for disagreeing with Cheney and Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld, Hatch said he was completely correct. Now when Obama wants to actually review the recommendations (as Afghanistan heads into Winter and any build-up would be pointless), Hatch thinks he's wrong.

    The only factor causing Hatch to oppose Obama is that the President is a Democrat.

    October 25, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  2. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Hatch must thinks by sending more troops into Afghan it will stop the killing and the Taliban, not so. It is clear the Taliban are on the borders of Pakistan and the Pakistan military is moving in on them with military force. I believe President Obama will submit more troops once the Taliban are forced out of Pakistan soil with no place to retreat other than Afghan and they will be destroyed.

    October 25, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  3. Barbara, IL

    I personally am very happy that this president is listening to all sides and developing a comprehensive strategy. In five short weeks my 18 year old son will leave for basic training to join the Marines. When all of his training is finished, his father and I want to know that wherever he is sent , the mission is clear, and he has the support he needs. This is not just "politics", but a matter and life and death for thousands of our armed services. We can have the best strategiy in the world, but if we can not trust the Afghan leaders, the strategy will not work! Let's leave the decisions to the ones who job it is to decide and the "politicians and analysts" need to stop speculating as if they know what will happen.

    October 25, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  4. Obama has little choice

    Right now we have American troops in harms way on the battlefield in Afghanistan. The President needs to support them 101%, or pull them all out. If Obama continues to dither, and not give the field commanders what they need, he is a failure and a disgrace as a Commander in Chief. Don't let this become another Vietnam where battlefield decisions are made based on political fallout or voter public opinion polls. Either fight the far to win it, or bring all our boys home Mr President

    Vietnam Era Veteran

    October 25, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  5. Robert the Man

    October 25th, 2009 12:11 pm ET

    ---Robert the man your the ignorant one, Why. because for the last 8 years, your egg Hatchers ,strategy didn't work and the war is still on. As long as the US is still voting for the US PARTY OF BULLIES their enemies on this war will only be empowered so. why don't you shut your trap. Live this to INTELLIGENT PEOPLE to decide.---

    Ha ha ha ha, after reading that, by all means intelligent one, please lead the way.

    October 25, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  6. ThinkAgain

    Where were all these armchair warriors when Donald Rumsfeld was planning the Iraq invasion and completely ignoring the generals' request for a minimum of 400,000 troops?

    First of all, we never should have gone into Iraq, but the least the Bush Administration could have done was listen to people who actually knew what they were talking about when planning the invasion.

    Rumsfeld, Cheney, Bush, Wolfowitz – all those doofuses avoided serving, have never seen a second of combat and yet had the arrogance to ignore the advice of our military leaders.

    THAT is why Iraq and Afghanistan are such a mess: The Bush Administration and their freaking incompetent, arrogant, idiotic, egocentric CHICKEN HAWK decision-makers!!!

    October 25, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  7. krejaton

    The Campaigner-in-Chief can't make up his mind and our soldiers are endangered by his inability to make the tough decision. This isn't bold leadership, it's incompetence.

    October 25, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  8. b franklin

    I am amazed at the number of you that actually think that ANYONE would actually make a decision to put soldiers life at stake for political gain. Obama wanted Gen McChrystal in the role he is in for a reason. Now he doesn't seem to want to acton HIS guys recommendation.
    There is a huge difference in between running a campaign and running a country. You actually have to make real decisions running a country. Obama is simply not up to the task!

    October 25, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  9. Terry

    Who is Hatch to warrant any coverage. The decision is extremely important and the analytical process takes time. The generals do not get to tell their commanders in the pentagon, the secretary of defense and joint chiefs and president what to do. McCain and other simpletons have come to take orders from "those in the field" and that is not smart...they see only one aspect of complex situations.

    October 25, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  10. AJ

    Take all the time you need Mr. Prez. I'm impressed with the careful deliberation.

    I LOVE how the opposition is saying a fast decision would support troops. If you truely supported troops you'd only want them to go into a thoughtful situation. Where people, you know, actually care about their lives. I guess the last 8 years of reckless and irreponsible decisions and the killing of many american lives for the wrong reasons is what the cons call "strong leadership."

    Hence, why they no longer run the country. America's smarter than that.

    October 25, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  11. bco

    We have already seen the wisdom in delaying a troop decision until Karzai agreed to a run-off election. This matters of course, since the Afghan peoples' perception of a corrupt government is one of the major reasons for the recent Taliban successes.

    But this is only an example of the bigger picture- which is that, here in the US, the civilian government is supposed to tell the military what to do, not the other way around. That is why President Truman fired General MacArthur, in I'd say that there is by now a good case for President Obama firing General McChrystal.

    Generals should offer honest appraisals to Presidents, and Presidents should honestly consider that information. In private.

    October 25, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  12. Debbie

    We need a commander in chief like Dick Cheney who will send our military into harms way without thinking.

    October 25, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  13. Bren

    Every day Obama drags his feet and does not make a decision regarding Afghanistan-it is placing our military men/women in increased danger. The increased troop levels increases the safety of those in our military who are in Afghanistan!!!

    He needs to either give the Generals the 40,000 troops that they requested/need, or get all of our military members out of there NOW!!

    Obama is just playing political games--not wanting to upset either side--as he is trying to shove that health care disaster down our throats.

    The terrorists are well aware of everything that is going on right now regarding the Afghanistan issue--and soon, they will act upon the knowledge of knowing that our military is weak in Afghanistan due to not having enough troops.

    October 25, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  14. Fred in VA

    Cut Obamba some slack, he doesn't know what to do. Dang!

    October 25, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  15. John Bickford

    Always we hear that we ought to "listen to the generals on the ground". Why? If Harry Truman had listened to Douglas MacArthur, who some think was among our best generals ever, about the conduct of the war in Korea, we would have have been at war with Communist China. Remember, it was MacArthur who advocated quite publicly that we invade across the Yalu River. That is why we have civilians in charge. It should never be assumed that the generals are correct just because they are generals.

    October 25, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  16. stevetall

    The wind is blowing and the lips are flapping. What are you doing to help anything, Orin?

    As usual, the answer is, "nothing". Shut up and get on board, or get off the bus!

    October 25, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  17. Arden Muller

    For all those who believe they know how to handle a war, get up out of your armchairs and enlist. No one has a clue except the military leaders and their job is to do what they think is best. We don't really know what is real and what isn't real. Until there is a definite leader to work with all the president would do is send more troops in to die. Then all of you would go back in history and call it a war of vietnam. For eight years we were in the wrong war let's allow this president to at least come close to getting it right.

    October 25, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  18. Lefty

    Good Lord! Liberals apparently still believe our generals and our soldiers "lost" the war in Vietnam. That war was lost by our media and our peacenik "friends" who so divided this country that we were able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Then they partied while hundreds of thousands of innocent lives were taken by the "victors." And now, here we go again. Now we're making our young men and women fight a war where they must get permisson to fire on the enemy, permission often not granted until a couple of our own are killed or wounded. Our Commander in Chief fiddles while Rome burns. I once heard the term "fool" defined as someone who keeps on making the same mistake over and over. Well, here we go again.

    October 25, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  19. Shame on Obama

    Obama is putting the lives of soldiers in danger. He is playing a waiting game to get the far left members of his party onboard with his health care agenda and their votes for his plan and then after the waiting game is over he will announce the need to increase troop levels. All about placing politics ahead of the lives of American soldiers.

    October 25, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  20. STILL unemployed in Iowa

    Obama just procrastinates and lies on everything, Just look what Obama has done in the feation of jobs, NOTHING.

    Obama has made us less safe and all he does is LIE.

    October 25, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  21. rick

    Yes, Mr Pres....think some more.. more...and more...you can take all the time you need...even if it take years...our lib friends/democrats can be trusted more that our military. Keep up the good work

    October 25, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  22. manhandler

    How about Hatch going over thare and fighting if he's so gung ho about this useless, stupid, insane war. Or if he has kids or grandkids, lets send them over. All these politicians and warmongers are always so ready to send other peoples kids to go over and be slaughtered for NOTHING! Get out of Afghanistan and get out NOW! Quit uselessly spending billions that we so desperately need here in out own country.

    October 25, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  23. liberal in Madison, WI

    The previous presidential office should have thought more before making a decision to go to war with Iraq.

    October 25, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  24. Reformed Republican

    "Ready – FIRE – Aim!"

    The rethuglican way of killing Americans for two decades now. Atta boy there Hatch, that's the way to "protect" America.

    The only thing that's killing more of us than war is the rethugs obstructionism to health care reform and a strong public option. The rethugs like that way better because it's killing 122 Americans a day that do not have health care resources – and they think it's mostly democrat voters.

    Besides they get the up side of big bucks from the insurance companies every day they delay reform and big bucks from defencse contractors for keeping at least two wars going...

    October 25, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  25. John in Iowa

    I am a big supporter of Pres Obama but he does seriously needs to either make a decision soon or explain why it is taking so long to decide.
    The more he delays and says nothing, the more ammo it is to those that oppose him, and god knows they are being handed plenty of that each time such stories like Fox news being refused an interview comes out.

    October 25, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
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